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Heathen Offline
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How to overcome gaslighting - July 30th 2017, 09:12 PM

This thread has been labeled as triggering, particularly on the subject of rape or abuse, by the original poster or by a Moderator. The contents of this thread might therefore not be suitable for certain sensitive users. Please take this into consideration before continuing to read.

Hey all.

I wrote a post recently about trying to prepare to talk about the emotional abuse i suffered with my ex in group the next day. That ended up never happening, which I'm a little relieved about, but now I have a much bigger (and more triggering) issue. Yesterday I discovered that my ex had posted a "response" of sorts to a post I made about his treatment of me on another website we both use. I read the entire thing, including the comments. I could tell as I read it I was starting to have a panic attack but I pressed on because I felt I needed to know what it said, what he thought. In the comments section a couple of women defended me, trying to point out his harmful behavior, but that only left me feeling more confused and frightened of what I was reading.

My full-on panic attack commenced after I finished reading. I was in a horrible state and I kept repeating to myself that I am not crazy, because I felt crazy. His post was so logically composed and he had a rebuttal, a calm rebuttal, for everything, even for the women who outright shared their experiences where he had been neglectful. It made me doubt my experience. It made me doubt everything I felt in our relationship. I have no evidence. He never physically assaulted me and he never raped me. I don't know what to think anymore about what happened, whether it was real or not. It's like I know there is this label by multiple people that it was emotional abuse, but I don't know for myself anymore because I think it's wrong based on all the things he said in his post.

My family informed me that this was called "gaslighting," where someone hides their true behavior and tries to make you feel like you're losing your sanity, which is exactly how I felt last night. How I still feel, really. My question is, is that really what's happening, and, if so, how do I overcome it to see the truth and how do I heal from it?

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del677 Offline
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Re: How to overcome gaslighting - July 31st 2017, 10:09 AM

The truth will reveal itself eventually. Shocks like this are normal (well, they happen, I wish they didn't).

Give it time. Try not to "figure it out" too hard. Another way is to purposely not think about it, as if trying to solve a puzzle. Just go do something else, allow the unconscious part of your mind to work on it in the background, and when you're calm and not expecting it, a better perspective will reveal itself.

I do the same thing, spin my mind out of control trying to figure out what the F just happened, especially when the world suddenly throws me a curve ball. I get together with a supportive friend, we go for a walk, I do meditation (the art of not thinking about all these things that bother you, the art of doing nothing and just observing the present moment). I purposely become aware of my thoughts, and purposely focus my mind on the present moment, and purposely stop thinking, and replace that with observing the present moment. It's a good trick to learn to stop that spinning mind. (It takes practice.)

(Also when a couple break up, people always take sides. You'll find people on his side, and people on your side. It's just what happens.)

His arguments may at first seem quite solid. Your unconscious mind working in the background will eventually find the holes in it. He's writing it from his perspective and he wants to make himself look good (who doesn't?). Your perspective is equally as valid. (It's all about Cognitive Framing. Stuff happens. We are the ones who make sense of it, and two people won't necessarily make sense of it in the same way.)

Thank you for sharing!
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Re: How to overcome gaslighting - August 2nd 2017, 02:21 PM

It could be gas-lighting, especially if the way it was presented was in a logical manner that seems to counteract everything you said, making it look and feel like you are in the wrong. But equally, emotional abuse is tricky to identify mostly because it's not physical and it's easy to minimise and make all sorts of excuses. Abusers never like to be confronted and while some may lash out and deny that anything happened, others may stay calm and try to rationalise what happened by making it seem not that bad, or that you consented etc., which in turn makes you feel doubtful of your own experiences.

Just because he didn't physically assault or rape you, it doesn't mean that you weren't abused. It's definitely complicated when there is no physical evidence, as this means you have to rely on your memories and instinct. Maybe it might help to write out your experiences again, but making sure that you focus only on your experiences and not what this person said. You could also try reading the post again, and finding ways to argue against what he said, but don't do this if you think you may have a panic attack or get triggered again.

Another way of looking at it is that being able to normalise what you and others went through, is a sign that he can be manipulative. Which suggests that if he is able to normalise abuse, then he may well be emotionally abusive.

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